How to Become a General Contractor in South Carolina

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In South Carolina, you must obtain an appropriate license from the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR), to work as a general contractor within the state prior to presenting a bid for contractor services. A contractor's license is not needed when an owner is constructing or altering a building, provided that the building is located on the person's property and is being constructed for the purpose of use by the individual solely.

Things You'll Need

  • Application fee Affidavit Examination fees Surety bond License fee
  • Pay the appropriate fee ($100, in 2010) and file an application to take the required exams. The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, will respond to your application within a week to 10 days. An affidavit showing proof of at least one year experience under the supervision of a licensed builder is required.

  • Once your application has been reviewed and approved by the Office of Licensure and Compliance, you will receive a Letter of Eligibility to take the required examinations. Pay an examination fee ($90, in 2010), schedule and take the tests. All testing is administered by P.S.I. Examination Services at various times throughout the year and at one of their testing locations around the state, including Charlotte, Greenville, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Nationwide testing centers are available for non-residents of the state. The examination is given on computer, and you will know your results immediately.

    The South Carolina Residential Contractor Exam has 80 questions and a time limit of four hours. A 65 percent is required to pass. Topics on the exam include sitework, footings and foundations; concrete and concrete reinforcement; masonry; carpentry; roofing; associated trades; drywall; estimating and plan reading.

    An applicant is also required to take the Business Management and Law for Residential Builders Exam. This exam is 50 questions, and you will need to answer 35 correctly (70 percent) in order to pass with a time limit of two hours.

  • Pay a $160 license fee (certified check or money order, in 2010), attach test results and provide a surety bond in the amount of $15,000. The bond should be issued in the individual applicants name and not in the company or business name.

Tips & Warnings

  • A license may be granted without examination to those builders in good standing in other states deemed by the commission to have comparable exams. The license must be renewed every two years. Renewal applications are available online. Accredited Building Exam: Beginning May 1, 2010, South Carolina began administering the accredited building exam for the unlimited building classification. Currently there are five states that accept this examination (with other states to follow): South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.

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  • Photo Credit home construction image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com
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